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James and Ashley are staying at home. Partly because there’s a pandemic, partly because they’re writers, and partly because of their health. Through discussions and interviews, they explore the big questions: how do books get written? How do people live with chronic illness? And just what ARE you reading?

Ashley Kalagian Blunt is author of two books, How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, a thriller novella and collected essays. My Name is Revenge was a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Woollahra Digital Literary Awards. Her writing appears in Griffith Review, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Big Issue, Westerly, Kill Your Darlings and more. She lives and works in Sydney, NSW. Find her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

James McKenzie Watson won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize for his novel Denizen, which also received a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship and 2021 KSP Fellowship, and was highly commended for the 2020 Writing NSW Varuna Fellowships. His short fiction has been recognised in competitions including the International InkTears Flash Fiction Contest and the Grieve Writing Competition, and featured in publications such as Baby Teeth Journal and Brave Voices Magazine. He works as a nurse in regional NSW. Find him on Twitter and Instagram or visit his website.

Ashley Kalagian Blunt and James McKenzie Watson

Nov 23, 2021

James and Ashley speak with Melbourne-based author Jacinta Dietrich about her debut book 'This Is Us Now', which explores a young couple's relationship as one of them faces a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Based on her boyfriend's experience of surviving lymphoma, the book explores two individuals who don't know where their relationship is going and have to figure out how they feel about each other, all as one of them goes through chemo. Jacinta discusses how cancer treatment 'suppresses every part of a relationship', her decision to write the book she needed to read, and how she managed to write honestly about difficult feelings. 

Jacinta Dietrich is a writer and editor who holds a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. 'This Is Us Now' is her first book. You can order it from Booktopia and bookshops across Australia

Books and authors discussed in this episode:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; 
  • Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott;
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks;  
  • Lee Kofman (featured in episode 3); 
  • Earthlings by Sayaka Murata; 
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata; 
  • Late Bloomer by Clem Bastow; 
  • Kay Kerr (featured in episode 37);  
  • The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan; 
  • Tana French; 
  • Dinuka McKenzie; 
  • Andrew Solomon, of course! 
  • Ten Thousand Aftershocks by Michelle Tom (featured in episode 38); 
  • Lyn Yeowart (featured in episode 39

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